I loved this tea. I bought this tea the first time because it won first place at the North American Tea Championships Fall 2010. I had been pretty disappointed with TG’s English Breakfast Blend that had won 3rd place and I figured that there must be something better. This is just Assam and Ceylon-both teas that are self-drinking (unlike a couple of the teas in the TG blend).
The first cup was a revelation. Strong, yes, but not bitter. Bold. Malty. Simple yet very flavorful. Didn’t need milk and sugar to get through the cup like I did with TG’s. In fact, never even tried it with milk or sugar. It was just get it and go. Perfect way to start my day. However, if I only had one tea in the house I could have drank it all day long. If I had been a Steepster member back then I would have given it a rating in the 90’s.
So, when I needed a new boiling water tea (most of my teas brew at 195 or so), I did not hesitate even though it did not win an award in the 2011 Fall NATC.
Liquor is deep copper. Leaves are dark brown/black, short, somewhat needle-like with just a few golden tips/buds mixed in.
This batch has been so…disappointing. It’s not weak, but it’s not nearly so strong and bold. The flavor is just kinda… subdued. Not so malty. Not so anything it was last time. This is not a good thing for a breakfast blend. The first thing I did was to look at the best-consumed by date. I was suspecting they sold me the same batch that I had purchased last year. But no, it was January 2014 as opposed to March 2013 with different production numbers so that wasn’t it. I tried “refreshing” the leaves for 3 seconds in boiling water-to no measurable effect on the flavor.
I understand that variations in climate, precipitation, temperature, etc. can all effect the taste of tea leaves from crop to crop. That is to be expected if tea comes from a single garden. However, I expect a big outfit like RoT isn’t buying from just one Assam garden and one Ceylon garden. I would think they would buy from multiple gardens to try to prevent too much variance in their teas. I suppose climate variations could effect the whole regions too. I don’t know.
I wonder if they are using cheaper and lower quality teas for this blend now and saving the better stuff for their more upscale offshoot, Rare Tea Republic
Well, I’ll drink one cup first thing for now-because I don’t have any other boiling water teas, but I am looking to get some other breakfast-type boiling water teas, so I may or may not finish this.